This paper was prepared for the Small Arms Working Group of Peacebuild. Project Ploughshares was the Coordinator of the Small Arms Working Group from 2004 through to 2010. The paper is part of a series that explored the relationship between armed violence and development.
With 66 per cent of all homicides occurring in countries not experiencing major violent conflict, armed violence is now a global social problem. Even more alarming is that much of this violence is perpetrated by young people, who are also over-represented among the victims. Youth armed violence is now a grave concern at every level of society and initiatives to deal with this issue have been increasing. More recently, steps have been undertaken to map those initiatives, especially at the community level, and document and disseminate good practice in addressing the problem. In furtherance of the goal of the Small Arms Working Group and Project Ploughshares to reduce violence and build peace, this study presents case studies of two specific programs that are enjoying some measure of success: The Peace Management Initiative (PMI) in Kingston, Jamaica and the Breaking the Cycle (BTC) Project in Toronto. Both programs were selected because of their success with gang-associated, violent youth in Jamaica’s inner city and in Toronto’s Caribbean diaspora communities respectively. Both are linked by the study’s Caribbean youth focus. The link goes even deeper: the perception is that much of the violence in Toronto is perpetrated by youth of Caribbean, particularly Jamaican, heritage.